Posted by: atowhee | March 4, 2015


dplpr dips (1280x960)Here we have Dipper dipping his head into the water to seek out prey.  Then a sudden itch grabs the bird’s attention. dplpr itch (1280x960) dppr itch2 (1280x960) dppr rksHere we see Dipper with dipperwash on rock beyond. dppr stnd (1280x960) dppr swim (1280x960)Even in relatively small Ashland Creek the Dipper can look tiny in a pool., dppr watchs littl brd on rk on rk2 on rk3This dipperwashed rock is on lower Ashland Creek below Main Street Bridge where a second pair of Dippers is apparently nesting but which I didn’t see.  Dipperwash all along the creek indicates the Dippers are moving along the stream as they hunt. washThe pictures of fishing Dippers were all taken near the Bridge #3 nest site in upper Lithia Park.

Click here for the the latest in my informal survey of Oregon towns with nesting Dippers.

Click here for gallery of photos of nest-building Dippers at Bridge #3 during Saturday’s encounter.

Posted by: atowhee | March 4, 2015


Spring is upon us like a flooding creek…sticks and leaves tossed about, loud noises not heard in quieter seasons, a lushness that belies the aridity that dominates this part of the planet, animals in pairs with lust in their eyes.  The undercurrent is stronger at any senior prom.  All morning the local male Flicker has been trumpeting his territorial call.  Any day now I expect the Juncos to begin singing prior to their departure for higher elevations and taller conifers.

cro-cuple ecd-paird (1280x960)pufi-upp (1280x960)Above we have Crows, Collared-Doves and Purple Finches in couples.  Then below a male Mallard in his finest spring outfit.  Feeling the hormonal surge that makes him lord of the pond…when the otter’s not present of course.mall-mal1 (1280x960) mall-0mal3 (1280x960)  mall-mal2 (1280x960) mall-mal4 (1280x960) P2340470 (1280x960) From other orders, the message is the same.  I’ve been seeing an occasional bee mid-day for the past week.  The aspens and crabapples in my garden are in leaf.  Hyacinths are threatening to bloom even though some nights are below freezing. The daffodils are practically through for the year as are the croci. The daytime brings sun and 60-degree temps.  We have had the winter that wasn’t.  Al lour cold and snow was shipped via the jet stream to those suckers on the East Coast.

Posted by: atowhee | March 2, 2015


HouseFinchPhotos by Emmalisa Whalley, House Finch at her home feeder.  Dippers in Lithia Park. Waterdipper Waterdipper2 Waterdipper3 Waterdipper4 Waterdipper5

Posted by: atowhee | March 2, 2015


The daily gathering of the Corvid Clan was once held on the Billings Ranch.  Today it was tea on the lawn.  Dozens of the Crows gathered.  There was some sharing of the repast and then a flurry of fury as they swarmed and screamed, then settled back down for another cuppa.crow2 crows1

MORE MARCH BIRDSBT ALONE BT-FLTTRA single Band-tail in our garden this morning.  Below suet pigs, also known as Bushtits. BT-SUET P2340415 (1280x960) P2340416 (1280x960) P2340418 (1280x960) RBSPOLEThe Red-breasted Sapsucker was drumming on our local drum today.  The split utility pole attracts all the local woodpeckers: Flicker, Downy, Hairy and this one. RBSPOLE2The other woodpeckers all have various volume of steady, monotonouse, repeated drum strokes.  This fellow has a beat, some rhythm.  A syncopation that is recognizable.  I was in the house when I heard the beat and knew it was him.  In the parlance of a bygone era, a real hip cat.  Give him a bongo and he could accompany Gregory Corso’s poems.  Go, man, go. RBSPOLE3 TURKTWO TURKTWO2If you had those feathers, you’d be lookin’ for an excuse to strut too. TURKTWO3TURKTWO4 YR-ALONE

Posted by: atowhee | March 1, 2015


Two pairs found nest-building!  Here’s the reporr from Frank Lospalluto:

 “2 nesting pairs. 5 possibly 6 different individuals along the creek.
 One pair at Bridge 3 in old box ,refurbishing last year’s uncompleted nest. It appeared to be a in its final stages.
 Pair at Main St. /Bluebird Park, the 2014 banded male with a new partner this season. They are using the nest box this year and not the drainpipe! They have completed about 2/3 of the nestbuilding.
 No evidence of any nesting activity up around the Granite St. reservoir YET.
 Egg laying usually begins 6-15 days after nest completion.”
Here is one of my pics from Saturday’s field trip:DPR-NST1 (1280x960)
Posted by: atowhee | March 1, 2015


UPDATED ON MARCH 2:  After my recent blog on Dippers nest-building in Lithia Park, I queried the OBOL community on where else there were in-town Dippers in Oregon.  So far, here is the list of towns where fellow birders have confirmed Metro-Dippers.

Astoria:  Linda Perkins wrote: “We have about 6 pairs that I know of around Astoria but not within city limits.  We tend to have a lot because we have salmon hatcheries on the coast.”

Bend:  “Dippers regularly breed under the walking bridge crossing the Deschutes (below my house) here in Bend. I hear them every morning. Beats an alarm clock.  Steve Kornfeld”

Canyon City: “I’ve seen dippers at the bridge by the Grant County courthouse in Canyon
City — and in metropolitan Marion Forks, too.  ;-)
Paul Sullivan”

Marion Forks

Mitchell, along Bridge Creek in southern Wheeler County.


Scappoose: “Dippers are regularly spotted from the Scappoose-Vernonia Highway leaving Scappoose toward Vernonia (about a mile from Hwy 30) where the road crosses North Scappoose Creek.”


Talent–along Bear Creek Greenway but may not be nesting in that stretch of stream

Timber: on the Nehalem

Wilsonville:  25 Oct 2012, Mary French and I spotted a Dipper at the Willamette River Water Treatment Plant in Wilsonville.  It was our first visit to that site and by far the most interesting, the Dipper was not seen after that day. From Doug Niwa.

DPR-CARRY2 (1280x960)Click here for link to previous blog on the nest-building pair here in Ashland. in 2013 there were three known nests along Ashland Creek in central Ashland.  Just for the record there are Euro-Dippers along the river flowing through Baden-Baden, Germany.

One expert local birder there tells me: no evidence of nesting Dippers inside the Grants Pass city limits though the bird is common along the Rogue River.

Posted by: atowhee | March 1, 2015


“Bird Watcher’s Digest” published my letter to then about Great Gray Owls.  The species was on the cover and featured inside in their last issue of 2014.  Here’s the letter mildly chiding them for not including information on Great Gray Owl nest platforms.  It gave me a chance to plug both the Rogue Valley Audubon nest platform program and the Mountain Bird Festival.GGOWL LETTER TO BWD

By the way I will be speaking on Great Gray Owls of the Oregon, California and Washington at the bird festival in LeGrande, Oregon, on May 15.  It is the Ladd Marsh Bird Festival and includes field trips to GGO nesting habitat at Spring Creek.MTBF COLOR LOGOGLARETaken last month along Dead Indian Memorial Road in Jackson County, elevation 4600 feet.

Posted by: atowhee | February 28, 2015


Our group from my birding class at North Mountain Nature Center had a day of clouds and great birding.  Last night’s rain had moved east and left us with puddles but no precip.  Birds were hungry and some were even in a nesting mood.  We saw over 40 species during the day.  Nesting Great Horned Owl-check.  Nesting Great Blue Heron-check. Dipper pair nest-building in Lithia Park-check.  White-throated Sparrow at North Mountain-check. Crows chasing Raven-check.  Crows chasing Cooper’s Hawk-check.  Screech-Owl asleep in his box-check. Lesser Goldfinch in bold spring colors-check. Shoveler and Green-winged Teal in breeding plumage.  A gang of Lewis’s Woodpeckers fly-catching and iridescent in the sun.  A White-tailed Kite hunting a hillside at Emigrant Lake.  Black Phoebe hawking gnats over Ashland Pond.  Flickers in spring plumage including one with yellowish underwings.

P2340149 (1280x960) P2340153 (1280x960) P2340180 (1280x960) P2340169 (1280x960) P2340158 (1280x960)Wow, we actually have snow in the Cascades.  Not a usual sight around here during this warm winter. High today: 54 degrees F.


North Mountain Park, Jackson, US-OR
Feb 28, 2015 8:00 AM – 9:20 AM.  23 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  6
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  2
Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)  4
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  3
Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)  2
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  2
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) (Columba livia (Feral Pigeon))  X
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)  2
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  3
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  10
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  8
Common Raven (Corvus corax)  3
Wrentit (Chamaea fasciata)  X     HEARD ONLY
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  30
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  3
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1
White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis)  1
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)  25
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  8
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  50
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)  30
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)  20

Ashland Pond, Jackson, US-OR
Feb 28, 2015 10:20 AM – 11:05 AM. 19 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  X
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  2
Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)  1
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)  1
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  8
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  2
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)  1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  2
Black Phoebe (Sayornis nigricans)  1
Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)  1
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  4
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  2
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  X
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  2
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)  20
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  6
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  12
Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)  X

Lithia Park, Jackson, US-OR
Feb 28, 2015 9:30 AM – 10:00 AM. 4 species

Western Screech-Owl (Megascops kennicottii)  1
American Dipper (Cinclus mexicanus)  2     NEST BUILDING UNDER BRIDGE #3
Varied Thrush (Ixoreus naevius)  1
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  X

Howard Prairie Circuit, Jackson, US-OR
Feb 28, 2015 11:30 AM – 1:00 PM
6 species

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  1     on nest along Hwy 66 near Oak Knoll Golf Course
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)  1
Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus)  1     female on nest
Lewis’s Woodpecker (Melanerpes lewis)  6     Hwy 66, milepost 10
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  X
Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)  X     singing at MP 10 on Hwy 66

Emigrant Lake, Jackson, US-OR
Feb 28, 2015 11:50 AM – 1:20 PM. 15 species
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  3
White-tailed Kite (Elanus leucurus)  1     hunting at southeast end of lake, east of Rosebud Lane
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  5
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  2
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)  2
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  6
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  6
Common Raven (Corvus corax)  1
Oak Titmouse (Baeolophus inornatus)  2
White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  2
Western Bluebird (Sialia mexicana)  2
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  4
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  3
Golden-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia atricapilla)  15
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  6

Posted by: atowhee | February 28, 2015


Our Ashland Park & Rec birding field trip happened to arrive at the Lithia Park Dipper nest site at exactly the right time this morning.  Both of the mated Dippers were present, and hunting.  Not for food but for nesting material.  We watched one check out a leaf, dampen it and then lose it into the current.  Not sure if that was a reject or an accident.  We also witnessed plenty of stick carrying to the nest beneath the bridge.DPR WHIRL (1280x960) DPR-CARRY (1280x960) DPR-CARRY2 (1280x960) dpr-cvarry3 (1280x960) DPR-FOOD1 (1280x960) DPR-NST1 (1280x960) DPR-NST2 (1280x960) DPR-NST3 (1280x960) DPR-NST4 (1280x960) DPR-NST5 (1280x960) DPR-NST6 (1280x960) DPR-NST7 (1280x960) DPR-NST8 DPR-NST9 (1280x960) DPR-NST10 (1280x960)Below the nictitating membrane flashes white in front of the Dipper’s eye. nictitatingFollowing the Dipper along crashing, foaming Ashland Creek I can only admire perseverance in the face of peril, temerity trumping timidity, adaptation out-stripping adversity, survival in contradiction to human understanding.dpr1 (1280x960) dpr2 (1280x960) DPR4 (1280x960) DPR5 (1280x960) DPR6 (1280x960) DPR7 (1280x960) DPR8 (1280x960) DPR9 (1280x960)P2340189 (1280x960)Do I credit license plate kharma coming down?


Our Mountain Bird Festival here in Ashland has walks designed to get birders a look at Dippers.  You can click here for information on signing up.MTBF COLOR LOGOMoney from Festival goes to support Klamath Bird Observatory, the only NGO doing bird science in southern Oregon and northern California.

Posted by: atowhee | February 27, 2015


Alpha predators all display a lot of attitude.  Warlords. Hedge fund managers.  Merger and acquisition lawyers.  NBA team owners.  Grizzly and polar bears.  Orca.  Housecats. River otter.  Half of controlling your domain requires attitude in large measure.  Down at the pond today the otter was very concerned with showing my dogs that HE not tHEy was the alpha predator in that domain.ot1 ot2OT3 OT4 OT6 OT7 OT8OT4 (2) OT10 OT11 OT12

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